Asian session: The yen and dollar strengthened
The yen and dollar strengthened versus most major counterparts as concern that unrest in the Middle East will spread boosted demand for safer assets.
Japan’s currency rose from a three-month low against the euro as Asian stocks fell after Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s son warned of a civil war following attacks on anti-government protesters by security forces.
Saif al-Islam Qaddafi called on protesters to engage in dialogue or face a civil war that risks “hundreds of thousands of dead,” as a widening revolt posed the most serious challenge to his father’s 41 years of rule.
Libyan security forces yesterday attacked anti-government protesters, in Benghazi, the nation’s second largest city. The North African country, holder of the largest crude oil reserves on the continent, has become the focal point of region-wide protests ignited by the ouster of Tunisia’s president last month and energized by the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11. Violence has flared in Yemen, Djibouti and Bahrain.
The yen typically strengthens in times of political, financial and economic turmoil as Japan’s trade surplus makes the currency attractive because it means the nation doesn’t have to rely on overseas lenders.
EUR/USD: the pair shown high in the field of $1.3715 then decreased.
GBP/USD: the pair decreased in around 1.6210.
USD/JPY: the pair bargained within the limits of Y83.00-Y83.20.
US markets remain closed today for Presidents Day, although the European calendar is fairly busy to make up for it. This morning sees the release of the flash manufacturing/services PMIs for February from the main European states. France releases at 0758GMT and is expected to edge higher to readings of 55.0 and 58.0. At 0828GMT, the German release is expected to see manufacturing edge lower to 60.4 but services improve to 60.8. The main EMU release is due at 0858GMT, where the data is expected to edge higher to readings of 57.4 and 56.0.
The main German IFO business survey for February is due at 0900GMT and is expected to show mild improvements, with the Business Climate measure improving to 110.5, Current Situation to 113.0 and Expectations at 107.9.